Van Gaal: Rooney IS playing well… otherwise I'd drop him!

Manchester United manager confident defence can cope with Leicester striker Jamie Vardy, who needs one more goal to beat Ruud van Nistelrooy’s Premier League record

Louis van Gaal is adamant he would drop Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney if his performances for were not up to scratch.

United captain Rooney has scored just twice in 11 Premier League appearances this term but is expected to be in the starting line-up when his team-mates play leaders Leicester City on Saturday.

Manager Van Gaal denied he selects Rooney because of his role as skipper and instead highlighted the benefits of picking the 30-year-old striker.

“Wayne is doing a lot, has a very great contribution in the team. I am very satisfied with him,” the Dutchman said.

Asked if Rooney is worthy of his place on merit, Van Gaal added: “Yes, of course. Otherwise he is out of the team.

“At this moment, he doesn’t play in the striker’s position, [Anthony] Martial is playing there. But it is possible he shall play other matches there. It depends not always on the quality and shape of the player at the moment, but also the game plan.”

In contrast to Rooney’s misfortune in front of goal, United will come face-to-face with the league’s sharpest finisher at the King Power Stadium.

Jamie Vardy has scored in a record-equalling 10 consecutive league games to take his total to 13 for the season and Van Gaal acknowledged United must be prepared to be tested.

“Vardy is difficult to defend against,” he conceded.

“It was like that last season and even more so now. Vardy is like Van Nistelrooy – highly concentrated to make goals and always running in behind.

“It shall be difficult to stop him but we can do that because we have a lot of clean sheets already.”

Kilbane: Barkley good enough for Chelsea or Manchester United

The former Everton winger believes the young England midfielder has raised his game during the current season and has the ability to make the step up to a top club


Ross Barkley has the ability to play for a top club like Chelsea or Manchester United according to former Everton winger Kevin Kilbane.

The 21-year-old attacking midfielder has started all 13 of the Toffees’ matches in the Premier League this season, scoring five times.

Kilbane, who played for Everton between 2003 and 2006, has been impressed with the strides taken by Barkley during the current campaign and expects him to eventually play at the highest level.

“Is Barkley good enough for United or Chelsea? Yes he is,” he told the Daily Star. “If you are talking about playing for one of the top sides, of course he has that ability.

“He has got power, he has got pace, he is two footed. He has that rare ability to change a game and bring it to life. When you watch him play, he can glide past players, he can pick passes out.”

Kilbane added: “He has taken quite a bit of stick from the Everton fans over the last couple of years. A young lad like that is going to have inconsistent spells and times where he is not going to be in the match.

“But this season we are starting to see his skills and his level of performance has been outstanding.

“He has been involved with so many good things. If it is not a direct assist he has played a big part in the lead up to Everton’s goals quite a lot this season.”
 

Van Gaal likens 'nasty' Vardy to Bergkamp

The Old Trafford boss admitted that the Foxes forward is difficult to deal with and compared his goalscoring run to that of the Arsenal legend


Louis van Gaal has described Jamie Vardy as “a nasty player” for Manchester United and has compared the Leicester City striker’s goalscoring run to that of Dennis Bergkamp.

The England international drew level with Ruud van Nistelrooy’s Premier League record of scoring in 10 consecutive matches when he netted in the 3-0 win over Newcastle United last weekend.

Vardy won a penalty and scored the final goal in Leicester’s shock 5-3 win over United last season at the King Power Stadium and Van Gaal is wary of the danger posed by the 28-year-old ahead of the Foxes’ trip to Old Trafford this weekend.

“He was already last year a very nasty player for us. He scores, he provoked a penalty and now he is scoring in a row 10 goals so now you are a great player,” Van Gaal said on Friday.

“I only know, for example, Dennis Bergkamp as a player with me did the same with Ajax and that is not so easy.”


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When asked if Vardy was a potential January transfer target, Van Gaal added: “That’s none of your business.”

Despite struggling for a consistent goal threat this season, United allowed young striker James Wilson to join Brighton on a loan deal this week, with the 19-year-old having made just two appearances so far this term.

Van Gaal is confident the decision will benefit both club and player in the long term, however, given his lack of football in 2015-16.

“I have not always chosen him in the selection, and I think for him it’s better to play at his age than sit on the bench or play in the second squad,” he said.

“In the short term, maybe it’s not so good for Manchester United, but in the long term it’s better. It is part of the development of a player.”

Van Gaal 'not worried' by Manchester United form

The Old Trafford boss is not worried by the 0-0 draw on Wednesday and is wary of the threat that Leicester City pose


Louis van Gaal says Manchester United’s form does not worry him despite another goalless draw this week against PSV.

United needed a win to guarantee their place in the Champions League knockouts but failed to break down Phillip Cocu’s side at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

A number of fans made their feelings clear as United meandered to a fourth scoreless draw in seven outings, but Van Gaal says he will not become concerned until his side stop creating opportunities against defensive teams.

“If we weren’t creating chances I’d be worried, but we are and we don’t give too much away – normally our results are good,” he said on Friday ahead of the meeting with Leicester City.

“The fans have to be happy, you are playing for the fans but you have to see how our opponents are playing against us.


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“Our defensive organisation is normally the best part of our game. We’ve proved that more than ever this season.”

United visit Leicester knowing that a win will see them leapfrog the surprise Premier League leaders, though Van Gaal believes Claudio Ranieri’s side deserve their place at the top of the table following their recent form.

“I don’t think anybody has expected that, even Leicester themselves,” he said. “But they are deserved at number one because points are the most important thing; goals are important, but winning points is more important.

“I have good and bad memories of facing Ranieri. He’s an excellent manager and I’m happy for him.”

Van Gaal confirmed to MUTV prior to Friday’s media conference that both Phil Jones and Ander Herrera will miss Saturday’s game due to injury.

Ranieri backs Martial to find form

After criticism from Old Trafford legend Paul Scholes, the Foxes manager has backed the France striker to improve and praised his strong character


Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri is confident Anthony Martial will come good for Manchester United.

Martial hit the ground running at United, scoring four goals in as many matches following his £36million arrival from Monaco in September, but the 19-year-old has struggled to find the back of the net lately.

The France international has scored one goal in 15 appearances for club and country after United were held to a goalless draw by PSV in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Former United midfielder Paul Scholes was critical of Martial’s on-field persona and the perceived lack of care amid his goal drought.

However, Ranieri – who signed Martial from Lyon during his time at Monaco in 2013 – believes the youngster will rediscover his best form.


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“He is 19 years old. It is right to make criticism – and Scholes made the right criticism – but it will improve his mind. His character is very strong, he is young, but strong. It is important that he is also intelligent and then he can improve,” Ranieri said ahead of Leicester’s hosting of United on Saturday.

“I think his impact for us was amazing. He scored four goals if I remember. I have watched him grow a lot since two or three years ago when I bought him from Lyon. Now he is young, but he is a man.

“Already, three years ago, he knew very well where he will arrive because his focus was to achieve a high level of football in the world. I think he can arrive.”